S’pore Firm Launches 1st Omicron Covid-19 PCR Test Kit, Will Help Speed Up Testing

BioAcumen Launches Singapore’s 1st Omicron-Specific PCR Test Kit

Ever since the new Omicron variant was detected, all around the world, countries have been doing their best to contain the potentially more transmissible variant.

On Monday (6 Dec), a Singapore biotechnology firm BioAcumen Global launched the very 1st Omicron-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The new BioA Omicron Detection kit will help speed up the testing process.

Currently, detecting the Omicron variant will require 1 more day due to an additional gene sequencing step.

Omicron-specific PCR test kit can also detect previous variants

On Monday (6 Dec), local firm BioAcumen Global announced the launch of an Omicron-specific Covid-19 PCR test.

Image courtesy of BioAcumen Global

The BioA Omicron Detection kit will be able to detect the Omicron variant specifically. It can also detect prior variants, reported The Straits Times (ST).

Taking a test, a person can get 1 of the following results:

  • Covid-19 positive, Omicron positive
  • Covid-19 positive, Omicron negative
  • Covid-19 negative, Omicron negative

As of now, PCR kits that can detect Omicron need an additional gene sequencing step. This takes 1 additional day.

With the BioA Omicron Detection kit, the testing process will be sped up.

Swab results can be ready in 90 minutes

The BioA Omicron Detection kit also presents another advantage — simplified storage and transportation requirements.

It can be stored at room temperature for up to a year as it has been freeze-dried, unlike other “wet” PCR kits.

Image courtesy of BioAcumen Global

Using the kit is also a simple process. A swab sample is added to a bead of pre-mixed ingredients and put through the PCR machine.

According to ST, within 90 minutes of the swab being collected, the results will be ready.

Company hopes kits help control variant locally & regionally

BioAcumen Global shared that the test kit took about 2 weeks to produce and has been tested with artificial known sequences of the Omicron spike gene.

With the speed and convenience that the kits offer, the company hopes they can be used at places such as immigration checkpoints.

The company’s director also added that they are looking at ways to cut down the necessary steps and time needed to run the test.

This will be important at borders where tests need to be done on-site accurately.

As of right now, BioAcumen Global can produce up to 8,000 freeze-dried tests in a day. Comparatively, 25,000 traditional “wet” PCR kits can be produced at the same time.

Mass production of the BioA Omicron Detection kits has started. Each kit contains 40 individual tests at around $14 per test.

The company also hopes that the kits will help with surveillance and control of the Omicron both locally and regionally, reported ST.

Hope it helps authorities deal with Omicron efficiently

The new variant is believed to be more transmissible than previous ones like Delta.

On Sunday (5 Dec), the Ministry of Health said Singapore must expect to detect more Omicron cases at our borders. And in time to come, within our community.

Whilst its spread might be inevitable, we hope the launch of this test kit will better help authorities deal with it swiftly and efficiently.

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Featured image courtesy of BioAcumen Global.

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